Portland, November 4th, 2015. Legendary soccer player Brandi Chastain reinforced the power of community when she appeared as the keynote speaker at the 22nd annual St. Mary’s Academy Food for Thought Luncheon benefiting financial aid. Brandi Chastain posed between St. Mary’s Academy Vice President for Development, Emily Niedermeyer Becker ʼ86 and Director of Special Events, Hilary Baker.

More than 750 people attended the event in support of providing a premier college-preparatory education at St. Mary’s Academy to young women, regardless of financial circumstances. Thanks to generous donors and a compelling appeal from event co-chairs, the luncheon raised a total of nearly $400,000. (Photo credit, Andie Petkus)

Soccer Legend Brandi Chastain inspires St. Mary’s Academy community at 22nd annual Food for Thought Luncheon

Soccer Legend Brandi Chastain inspires St. Mary’s Academy community at 22nd annual Food for Thought Luncheon

Gorgeous flower bouquets are presented to St. Mary’s Academy alumnae and Food for Thought co-chairs Michelle Hotchkiss Sunderland ’87 and Deanna Hotchkiss Agostinelli ’83

Gorgeous flower bouquets are presented to St. Mary’s Academy alumnae and Food for Thought co-chairs Michelle Hotchkiss Sunderland ’87 and Deanna Hotchkiss Agostinelli ’83

Brandi Chastain smiles with St. Mary’s Academy Chairman of the Board of Directors, Kent Roberts before the Food for Thought Luncheon at the Portland Hilton Grand Ballroom

Brandi Chastain smiles with St. Mary’s Academy Chairman of the Board of Directors, Kent Roberts before the Food for Thought Luncheon at the Portland Hilton Grand Ballroom

St. Mary’s Academy alumnae Mary Ferguson Glass ’79 and Erin Couch ’79 at the Food for Thought Luncheon

St. Mary’s Academy alumnae Mary Ferguson Glass ’79 and Erin Couch ’79 at the Food for Thought Luncheon

KGW news anchor and St. Mary’s parent Brenda Braxton graciously emceed the Food for Thought Luncheon, St. Mary’s largest fundraiser in support of tuition assistance. During the 2015-2016 school year, 39 percent of St. Mary’s families are receiving $1.7 million in tuition assistance.

“As demand increases each school year, we continue to set new goals for financial aid to ensure that our students can afford the exemplary education St. Mary’s provides. We’re so grateful for the commitment of our donors and the lives they change,” said St. Mary’s Academy Vice President for Development, Emily Niedermeyer Becker ’86. “Being able to showcase a strong female iconic leader like Brandi Chastain was truly inspirational.”

Chastain is a two-time FIFA World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist best known for her 1999 World Cup-winning penalty kick and for co-founding the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI). At the Food for Thought Luncheon, Chastain revealed the qualities she believes turns “good into great.” Among her suggestions was the importance of community. “Without each other you will be pretty good, but not great,” said Chastain.

A powerful speech by St. Mary’s Academy junior Loise Velazquez demonstrated the impact of financial aid. Loise is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and attends St. Mary’s on a full scholarship. She described her determination to give back to the school, including her participation in Campus Ministry, the Marian Singers, the Ambassadors program and several student clubs.

“Being at St. Mary’s has put me on the right track for future success,” said Velazquez. “The financial aid I receive is changing my life.”

This year’s Food for Thought luncheon was co-chaired by Portland-area engineers, St. Mary’s parents, alumnae and sisters Deanna Hotchkiss Agostinelli ’83 and Michelle Hotchkiss Sunderland ’87 whose mother, Martha Hotchkiss, also taught at St. Mary’s Academy from 1975-85.

“St. Mary’s commitment to student financial aid inspires me to give in support of the young women who will be transformed by their time at St. Mary’s, and I hope it will inspire others,” said Sunderland.

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St. Mary’s Academy is a Catholic high school for young women located in the heart of downtown Portland that provides a challenging college-preparatory education with a focus on developing the whole person. Founded in 1859 by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, St. Mary’s Academy is Oregon’s oldest continuously operating secondary school and offers a supportive learning environment to a diverse student body from more than 35 cities in urban, suburban and rural Oregon and Southwest Washington. For more information about St. Mary’s Academy, please visit www.stmaryspdx.org.

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